Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding


Forgiveness: Unveiling an Asset for Peacebuilding

November 23, 2015 • Kristin Haas


A generous grant from the Fetzer Institute enabled Professor Daniel Philpott to lead a research project on the attitudes and practice of forgiveness in the wake of armed conflict. Working in partnership with the Refugee Law Project, Philpott conducted focus groups, interviews, and a 600-person survey in five districts of Uganda.

What did the research find?

Ugandans approve of and practice forgiveness widely in the wake of armed conflict. If widely practiced, promoted and complemented with appropriate transitional justice mechanisms, forgiveness can be a strong asset for peace-building.

This is true despite the widespread perception among Ugandans that peace in their country is fragile and negative, insofar as overt violence is absent but the conditions of justice and development are not present. Uganda remains hobbled by weaknesses in its political system, disputes over land and other property, a lack of development aid, the breakdown of family systems, and a lack of implementation of appropriate transitional justice measures like trials, truth commissions, reparations, apologies, and memorialization.

Philpott’s final report can be found here.